June 26th, 2012

The The Magazine

Interview with Colin Winnette in The The
Brian Chappell

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(Author Colin Winnette, whose novel, Revelation, was put out by Mutable last Fall, is interviewed below by The The’s Brian Chappell.)

 

Brian: What authors and styles have shaped you?

 

Colin: Influence is a tricky thing to talk about. I can say that Ben Marcus’s work was extremely important to me. It still is, but at one point it totally saved me. Or, reinvigorated me. I was finishing up undergrad and I was in love with writers like Beckett, Proust, Chekhov, Joyce, Kafka, these iconic figures who did what they were doing so masterfully that there seemed nowhere to go at all after that. That was also the result of my age at the time and what being in school can do to you. I didn’t realize it then, but I had a pretty narrow vision of what it meant to be a writer and what one could do with fiction. But then I picked up Age of Wire and String and Notable American Women and I was just totally blown away. It was an entirely different approach to working with and examining language than I had ever encountered before. Those books led me to Gertrude Stein and William Gaddis and all of these authors who were breaking language apart, yes, but also reclaiming it, making it do new and fascinating things. And, I mean, they had been doing this for a long time and in different ways, and here was Ben Marcus doing it still in his own way and just killing it. So I suddenly felt very free again. It’s interesting the difference between grad school and undergrad. In undergrad I was constantly being told what good writing looked like. It looks like Carver. It looks like Chekhov. It looks like Pynchon (and indeed it does!). It looks like Austen. Etc. Workshops were little help because they were often the same kind of thing: I think you should do this, or I think this should happen, etc. Initially I lacked the confidence to assert myself. Then, when I gained a little confidence, I asserted myself by just ignoring pretty much everybody and only listening to the 2% I thought made sense or seemed to come from a good place. I started to tune a lot out. So I left undergrad fed-up, but with a lot of energy. I wrote and worked and traveled and didn’t write and two years later I went to grad school with a much different attitude. I used that time to write as much as possible. I listened to people and read as much as I could, but took the whole thing less…personally, I guess…than before. I took it seriously, but I knew the conversations we were having in class were often selfish in that we were all interested in enhancing our work by discussing the work of others. Helping one another wasn’t exactly the point, although we certainly did help one another from time to time. And I should say I think all that’s great. The two most important things grad school gave me were time and a sense of purpose. I felt encouraged to work and I had the hours in the day to do it. Or if I didn’t have them, I made them because I knew my time was limited. I taught myself how to make time to write. I was writing a lot on the train and in bed my first year. I wouldn’t let myself sleep until I had done a certain amount of work. I’m not sure I would have had that kind of discipline at first if I weren’t in a program. Now, it comes much more naturally. I had to learn how to kick my own ass.

 

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April 18th, 2012

The Open End

Revelation Reviewed at The Open End
herocious

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For some reason three is a good number. There’s a balance to three, a symmetry that seems to establish an axis. Three is triptych, three is trinity. With a title like REVELATION I feel like trinity is the more applicable to Colin Winnette’s first novel.

 

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November 25th, 2011

The Steve Himmer Blog

Review of Revelation by Colin Winnette
Steve Himmer

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Revelation, a novel by Colin Winnette, is a story about the end of the world in which, somehow, the apocalypse isn’t the biggest thing going. The story follows a core of three friends (Marcus, Colin, and Tom) from youth to old age as they lead ordinary lives in the midst of exploding trees, vanished oceans, plagues of locusts, and the Four Horsemen. Mundane traumas like a lost teenage girlfriend are more devastating to these characters than a lost ocean, and the vast wasteland of dead, rotting fish left behind as it dries are taken as a wretched novelty but not much of a warning.

 

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November 25th, 2011

Necessary Fiction

Necessary Fiction Reviews Amazing Adult Fantasy
Jess Stoner

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The artist statement of sorts, “Fiction”, that begins the first half of the stories in A.D. Jameson’s Amazing Adult Fantasy, teaches us how to read the entire collection: we’re told that we’re reading a book that’s been lost in a fire, that the book we’re reading doesn’t exist. A better metaphor for childhood, the gratuitous fiction of how we remember it, might not exist either.

 

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November 7th, 2011

Noo Journal

Rave review of Amazing Adult Fantasy
Jonah Vorspan-Stein

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AD JAMESON’S Amazing Adult Fantasy opens with a brief indictment: “Fiction may be the worst thing about the 21st century.” The stories that follow—fabled, sardonic, sharp—venture to strip fiction of its conventions, substituting in their place a new narrative logic: one that brandishes an acute playfulness and grandiose sentiment, one of mustachios and infatuation, the most mature kind of absurdity. These are stories about obsessions and deficiencies, about people who glare every bit of themselves, who feel the world on its largest scales. In these stories, astronaut Buzz Aldwin falls into the bad graces of NASA, a girl shares her various and mutually exclusive truths about Oscar the Grouch, and Bronx monkeys devote themselves to preserving earth’s aurora borealis. While these are certainly stories of insistent and shifting forms, they are also stories that always endeavor to a literary beauty.

 

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October 13th, 2011

The SF Site

Amazing Adult Fantasy Review Focuses on Humor
Paul Kincaid

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To begin with, these short fictions are funny.

 

They are also experimental, wayward and surreal, any of which might make them seem far more serious and “worthy” than they actually are.

 

They are not stories in the conventional sense. Some of them may offer a narrative, but if you try to follow them too closely you will find characters change, chronologies wander all over the place, and an obsessive interest in something mundane and irrelevant will suddenly intrude into the text. They take risks with what we expect of our fiction, which is a good thing, but not all the risks pay off, of course. This means it is all too easy to linger over phrase-making or ponder construction, or otherwise consider the success or failure of the individual pieces in some drily academic way. But that would be to miss the simple joie de vivre, the devil-may-care insouciance of the pieces.

 

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September 16th, 2011

The Quarterly Conversation

Review of Amazing Adult Fantasy
Jeff Bursey

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We’re in an unimaginative period when many readers prefer memoirs to fiction. Perhaps there’s something in Canadians and Americans that demands fiction to mirror life, to provide a perspective on how to live, like one would download an app designed to locate chain restaurants in foreign cities. Imaginative writing, so newspaper reviews would lead one to believe, has its best home in science fiction and fantasy titles. The serious novels—written by Philip Roth and James Ellroy, for example—don’t stray far from realism, unless you’re Spanish, South American or Salman Rushdie. When was the last time you picked up the local paper and saw a long review of a book that didn’t pretend to tell you exactly how this or that occupation was carried out in the 1540s, or describe minutely the way clothes were worn in 19th-century Wales? When was the last time an author’s style, above all other elements of a book, received praise in that same paper for its vocabulary, fresh metaphors, complex sentences, and the use of adverbs and adjectives, without once mentioning plot?

 

In the first volume of his four-volume set of criticism, Sheer Fiction (1987), Paul West has an essay titled “In Defense of Purple Prose,” and in it he says:

 

“Certain producers of plain prose, however, have conned the reading public into believing that only in prose plain, humdrum, or flat, can you articulate the mind of inarticulate ordinary Joe. Even to begin to do that, you need to be more articulate than Joe, or you might as well tape-record him and leave it at that. This essentially minimalist vogue depends on the premise that only an almost invisible style can be sincere, honest, moving, sensitive, and so forth, whereas prose that draws attention to itself by being revved up, ample, intense, incandescent or flamboyant, turns its back on something almost holy, and that is the human bond with ordinariness. . . . Surely the passion for the plain, the homespun, the banal, is itself a form of betrayal, a refusal to look honestly at a complex universe, a get-poor-quick attitude that wraps up everything in simplistic formulas never to be inspected for veracity or point. Got up as a cry from the heart, it’s really an excuse for dull and mindless writing, larded over with the speciously democratic myth that says this is how most folks are. Well, most folks are lazy, especially when confronted with a book, and some writers are lazy too, writing in the same anonymous style as everyone else. How many prose writers can you identify from their style?”

 

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July 15th, 2011

The Collagist

A review of A D Jameson’s Amazing Adult Fantasy
Peter Fontaine

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Amazing Adult Fantasy, A D Jameson’s debut collection of fiction, asks us to think carefully, as adults, about our childhoods. Not only our childhoods, however, but the nature of fiction and fictions, the imagination, and our relationship with them as we ‘grow up’ and supposedly “put away childish things.” The epigram that starts the collection, Paul speaking to the Corinthians, is one of the many clues Jameson gives us for thinking about the book, for understanding the sometimes contradictory ideas that govern its form and his approach to familiar and even iconic characters from our youth.

 

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